Talks inconclusive, farmers to go ahead with ‘Delhi Chalo’ march

Talks inconclusive, farmers to go ahead with ‘Delhi Chalo’ march

Chandigarh: Farmers are set to begin their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, a farmer leader asserted Monday night after their five-hour-long meeting with two Union ministers over their demands remained inconclusive.

“We do not think the government is serious on any of our demands. We do not think they want to fulfil our demands. Tomorrow, we will march towards Delhi at 10 am,” farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher told reporters here after the meeting ended just before midnight.

In the meeting, the Centre is learnt to have agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers registered during the 2020-21 agitation, sources said.

However, the sources said, farmer leaders were adamant on a legal guarantee to minimum support price for crops, which is one of their key demands.

The ministers — Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal and Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda — held the second round of talks with the farmer leaders at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher, among others, were part of the meeting, which began at around 6:30 pm.

After the meeting, Pandher said, “We held a long discussion with them and we discussed every issue…. Our effort was to avoid any confrontation. We wanted the issue to be resolved through dialogue with them. Had the government offered anything to us, then we could have reconsidered our agitation.”

He claimed that the government’s intention was not clean. “It did not want to give anything to us…. We told them to take a decision. They did not take any decision on the farmers’ demand of giving legal guarantee to the minimum support price,” he said, adding, “Tomorrow, we will march towards Delhi at 10 am.”

During the meeting, the delegation of the Centre is learnt to have agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers registered during the 2020-21 agitation against the now-repealed farm laws, said the sources.

The Union ministers are also believed to have agreed to give compensation to any left-out families of farmers who died during the previous agitation.

One of the farmer leaders, who participated in the meeting, told reporters that their main demands included legal guarantee to the MSP and debt waiver.

Punjab Cabinet Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, who also attended the meeting, said the state government stood with the farmers.

Besides a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), the farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstate the Land Acquisition Act 2013, withdraw from the World Trade Organisation, compensation for families of farmers died during the previous agitation, among others.

The SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have announced that farmers will head to Delhi on Tuesday to press the Centre to accept their demands.

Besides farmer leaders, Punjab government’s senior officers including Chief Secretary Anurag Verma and Director General of Police Gaurav Yadav were also present in the meeting.

Earlier, the farmer leaders, who were participating in the talks in Chandigarh, held a meeting in Amb Sahib in Punjab’s Mohali before leaving for the city.

The first meeting with the Union ministers was held on February 8 in which detailed discussions with the leaders of farmer organisations took place.